3rd May 2017 – Update

Given the significant numbers of people who have viewed this story, particularly on LinkedIn, I think it’s appropriate to update you all on the progress.

On May 2nd, I finally found someone within Fiat Chrysler Australia who would listen carefully and actually follow up the issue. Jason Nicholson, take a bow. You were the only person in the customer assistance area who did what was promised.

At 9.09am on Wednesday, May 3rd and before the 10.00am deadline I had imposed on him, Jason called me. He advised that the matter had been reviewed and that our mutual customers, Max and Diana would be receiving a payment from Fiat Chrysler in the amount of $7258.85. Needless to say that Max and Diana were absolutely thrilled with the outcome. But they shouldn’t have been. The fact remains that the service manager of the dealer involved in this matter, Dwyer’s Chrysler Jeep Dodge should never have charged the customer for the work. Under Australian Consumer Law, the dealer staff should have immediately contacted Fiat Chrysler and submitted a warranty claim. FCA call it GOODWILL, but the reality is that ACL protects the customer and arguably the dealer from this type of failure.

The service manager just didn’t know. It’s incumbent on importers/manufacturers to be fully aware of the liability beyond the stipulated factory warranty.

Interestingly, FCA declined to reimburse the $5000 paid by Harrier (the extended warranty issued by the selling dealer). If I was that dealer, I’d be asking for my $5000 to be returned. Jason advised that this component of the matter had been referred to the National Service Manager, Stephane Lamari. Lamari apparently decided that the ‘useful life’ of the transmission on this particular Grand Cherokee was 200,000 kilometers. Given that the vehicle had traveled 120,000k he deemed it fair and reasonable to retain the $5000 contribution mad by Harrier.

Ready for round 2 Stephane?

 29th April 2017 – Update.

As a former Jeep dealer, from 2003 until 2015, I understood the frustration of our customers dealing with the Australian distributor of Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Fiat and Alfa Romeo. My service manager was under strict instructions to involve me personally whenever a customer had recurring issues with their vehicle. In most situations, I was able to contact the area service managers personally and get issues resolved.
So, I’m going to update this particular case online until the matter has been resolved. So since April 22nd, 2017, I’ve been waiting for James Curren to contact me on behalf of Max and Diana. And yes, you’d be right in thinking that this hasn’t happened. So, April 28th, a week since speaking to James and with NO CONTACT either by telephone nor email, I called Fiat Chrysler again on 1300 133 079 and spoke to Jason. I spent 22 minutes on the phone with Jason, mostly on hold whilst he ‘investigated’ the status of the complaint. Ultimately Jason advised that the file had been sent to a Phil Hickman (who wasn’t available) and that I’d have to wait until at least Tuesday for Jason to follow this up with Mr. Hickman. I did ask Jason to check whether the file had actually been sent to Mr. Hickman but regrettably ” I don’t have access to that information” was the reply
When I questioned Jason about the poor communication, his comment ” We’re taking baby steps – it can’t happen quickly”  seemed to me to be implausible. Given my experience over 13 years with the brand, I’m fully aware of what it takes to have a complaint of this type resolved. Jason did say that because of the value of this claim, the matter had been elevated to senior management, hence I suppose, Mr. Hickman. I suggested to Jason that I’d give him until 10.00am on Tuesday to come back to me with an update. Am I expecting this to happen? Frankly no, but he could surprise me.
I’m guessing that this will eventually get up to Stephane Lamari, the head of aftersales for Fiat Chrysler. Stephane, if the Public Relations people ever send this article to you to read, and you want a hand with your customer communication, let me know. I’m happy to consult with you and improve what is currently a deplorable situation.

You bought a Jeep? I’m representing a Jeep owner, who’s currently traveling in Victoria.
In late February 2107, Max and his wife experienced a major problem with the transmission in their Jeep. In fact, total failure rather than a major issue. The vehicle was towed to a dealer for diagnosis and rectification. The dealer subsequently advised Max that the transmission would need to replaced at the cost of nearly $13,000. Ouch! Not wanting to disrupt their holiday too much, Max agreed to pay the bill. Curiously, the dealer didn’t approach Fiat Chrysler, instead relying on an extended warranty that the selling dealer had provided to reduce the pain.

Apparently, the dealer in Victoria does not know too much about Australian Consumer Law as it applies to this type of incident. They should probably have a read the information on the Australian Consumer Law website  – http://consumerlaw.gov.au/. If you don’t know your rights then if you’re reading this it’s worth having a browse through the site.

You bought a Jeep

You bought a Jeep? Great for towing but let’s hope you don’t have a warranty claim

So after eight days in country Victoria, and now over a week behind their schedule, Max and Diana continued on their journey, some $12,900 poorer for the transmission repair and their out of pocket expenses too.

After Max contacted me and I had a bettering understanding of what had happened, I called the Victoria dealer and discussed the situation. The Service Manager was not aware of Australian Consumer Law and had claimed $5000 via the selling dealers Harrier warranty leaving Max and Diana to pay the difference. (Important point to note here for any car dealer reading this article is that you have a duty of care to be up to date with Australian Consumer Law. Not knowing isn’t an excuse.)

My next move was to discuss the matter with Fiat Chrysler. I called their Customer Assistance number, 1300 133 079, at 11.00am on 11th April. A lovely lady named Sarah explained to me that I would have to submit the request online as that was the ‘quickest’ way to have any issue resolved. The 11th was the Tuesday before Easter, so I gave them time till after Easter to act on this. Their auto-responder told me that they would be back to me in  1-2 business days’ but given the size and seriousness of the concern, I expected a pretty quick response from the ‘case manager.’

Guess what? No contact received between April 11th and 18th, so I called FCA again on. Sarah took the call again and was surprised that a case manager had not contacted me. She said that she would follow it up.

No surprise really that I hadn’t heard from anyone on 19th April, so I rang again. Spoke to Sina who advised that she would get Sarah to call.

You bought a Jeep?

The 7 slot grille is famous – the lack of communication from Fiat Chrysler is infamous

Again I hadn’t heard from FCA again so at 2 pm on 20th April I rang once more. Sina answered the phone and told me that Sarah wasn’t available. I suggested to Sina that this was unacceptable and asked to speak to a more senior person. Eventually after 15 minutes on hold, Jason Curren, a senior supervisor spoke to me. He apologized for the runaround and said that he would handle it personally. He asked me to send him the relevant paperwork, and he would have a person from the ‘resolution team’ contact me.

It’s now Saturday 22nd April and no surprise again, there hasn’t been any contact to date. And this is the urgency that this particular manufacturer has for a major failure.

As an aside, I read an interesting article a few months ago where the new CEO and President of Fiat Chrysler, Steve Zanlunghi said that he was here to sort out the problems being experienced in Australia.  Zanlunghi, along with after sales chief Stephane Lamari doesn’t really seem to have gotten their arms around the lack of real customer service for their brands. There may be a significant number of problems to handle, but poor communication is no excuse. Customers will accept that this particular department is busy, but an email or quick phone call advising of the progress will do wonders for the brand to customer relationship.

So, let’s wait and see what the outcome is – I’m hopeful that Fiat Chrysler will eventually come to their senses and approve a refund of the $12900 that Max and Diana have spent. If not? Let Fiat Chrysler spin the wheel and see where it lands.